National News Media Council via J-Source, Oct. 19, 2023
For decades, publishing the names of people accused of committing crimes has been a regular part of daily public interest journalism. But just as the digital world has ushered in new ways of thinking about ethical decision-making, the long life of online news has posed important questions about how journalism’s ethical standards can evolve. In this vein, news organizations are increasingly giving careful consideration to ‘naming names’ in minor crime coverage.
The National NewsMedia Council has been contacted over the years by members of the public concerned that news stories published on the internet breathe ‘second’ and ‘third’ lives into past accusations. Sometimes, we’ve heard from individuals unable to find employment because a hiring manager has typed their name into a search engine, only to be alerted to past allegations of minor charges that were never tested in court or resulted in acquittals years later.